CBD oil is made from hemp plants. It may help treat pain, anxiety, and seizures. Here is what you should know before trying it. You have probably heard of the benefits surrounding CBD, but what are the potential side effects you ought to be aware of? CBD oil is considered to have a very high safety profile, but like any substance with the ability to change brain chemistry, its use can have some side effects.
CBD Oil Benefits vs. Side Effects
While it may be helpful, it may not be safe for all
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles, California.
CBD oil is said to have a variety of possible health benefits. It is used as an appetite stimulant, a sleep aid, a treatment for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, for relief of pain, to prevent seizures, and much more.
Though derived from cannabis, the same plants grown for marijuana, CBD oil is not he same as pot. But that doesn’t mean that CBD oil is 100% safe. Some possible side effects, like dry mouth, may be fairly minor. Others, like anxiety, are potentially more significant. And certain potential side effects may even make using CBD oil inadvisable for some people.
This article goes over what CBD is used for, the possible side effects, and what you should look for if you choose to buy CBD.
What Exactly Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a hemp plant extract known as cannabidiol mixed with a base (carrier) oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. CBD oil comes from Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa plants.
CBD Oil Benefits
People who support the use of CBD claim that CBD oil benefits people with a variety of health problems. CBD oil is said to be good for:
- Drug use and withdrawal
- High blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Poor appetite
- Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
As CBD has gained popularity, researchers have been trying to study it more. Still, there has not yet been a lot of clinical research focused on finding evidence to back up these health claims.
Here’s a deeper dive into what is known about a few of the purported health benefits of CBD oil.
A 2015 review of research that was published in the journal Neurotherapeutics suggested that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders.
The study authors reported that CBD had previously shown powerful anxiety-relieving effects in animal research—and the results were kind of surprising.
In most of the studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety, while higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) had almost no effect.
The way that CBD acts in the brain could explain why this happens. In low doses, CBD might act the same as the surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor that “turns up” their signaling. However, at higher doses, too much activity at this receptor site could produce the opposite effect.
There have not been many trials to look at CBD’s anxiety-relieving effects in humans. However, one was a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.
For the study, 57 men took either CBD oil or a sugar pill with no CBD in it (placebo) before a public-speaking event.
The researchers assessed the participants’ anxiety levels using measures like blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers also used a reliable test for mood states called the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
The men who took 300 milligrams (mg) of CBD oil reported less anxiety than the men who were given a placebo; however, the men who took 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil did not experience the same effects.
CBD oil might help people with substance use disorder, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Substance Abuse.
The review looked at the findings from 14 published studies. Nine of the studies looked at the effects of CBD on animals and five looked at the effects on humans.
The researchers reported that CBD showed promise for treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant use disorders.
However, the effects of CBD were quite different depending on the substance. For example, CBD without THC did not decrease withdrawal symptoms related to opioid use.
On the other hand, it did reduce drug-seeking behaviors in people using cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs.
Some experts suggest that CBD could help treat cannabis and nicotine dependence, but more research is needed to provide this theory.
Some studies have suggested that CBD oil may benefit the skin.
A 2020 paper, for example, found that CBD oil may help reduce inflammation, which could be useful for treating a variety of skin conditions including allergic dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis.
Proponents say CBD oil has benefits for people with cancer. Although some studies have shown promise, there have been no large studies proving the benefits of CBD oil as a cancer treatment.
Other studies suggest that CBD might interact with cancer drugs.
If you have cancer and are considering CBD, talk to your oncologist first about whether or not it is safe for you to use.
High Blood Pressure
A 2017 study found that CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease because it can lower high blood pressure in some people.
For the study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. The men who took CBD had lower blood pressure before and after experiencing stressors like exercise or extreme cold.
The study also looked at the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat (stroke volume). The stroke volume in the men who took CBD was lower than in was in the placebo group, meaning their hearts were pumping more efficiently.
The study suggested that CBD oil could be a complementary therapy for people with high blood pressure that is affected by stress and anxiety.
However, there is no evidence that CBD oil can treat high blood pressure on its own or prevent it in people at risk. While stress can complicate high blood pressure, it does not cause it.
Proponents say CBD oil has benefits as a sleep aid, but research so far is inconclusive.
A 2017 review pointed out that many studies have been small and limited. However, the authors also noted that because cannabinoids seem to have an effect on the sleep-wake cycle, their potential as a sleep aid is worthy of additional research.
In June 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD oral solution called Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children under the age of 2: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are very rare genetic disorders that cause lifelong seizures starting in the first year of life.
Other than for these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness for treating seizures is not known. Even with Epidiolex, it’s not clear if the anti-seizure effects are from CBD or another factor.
However, there is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medicines like Onfi (clobazam) and raises their concentration in the blood. More research is needed to understand the link.
Possible CBD Oil Side Effects
Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can cause side effects. The specific side effects and their severity varies from one person to the next and from one type of CBD to another.
Some common CBD side effects people report include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Dizziness or fatigue
- Dry mouth
Do not drive or use heavy machinery when taking CBD oil—especially when you first start using it or switch to a new brand. Remember that some products do contain THC, even in small amounts.
Your healthcare practitioner may advise against using CBD oil if you:
- Have liver disease: CBD oil may increase liver enzymes, which is a marker of liver inflammation. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking CBD oil. You may need to have your liver enzymes checked regularly if you decide to use it.
- Have eye issues: CBD oil may also cause eye-related side effects. A 2018 study found that it may increase pressure inside the eyes. For people with glaucoma, this can make the condition worse. Some people also report dry eyes as a side effect of CBD oil.
- Are pregnant or nursing: You should not use CBD oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though the effects of CBD are not fully understood, it does pass through the placenta.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) further states that pregnant people should not use marijuana because of the potential risks to a developing fetus.
Can CBD Oil Get You High?
CBD oil does not get you high. Although it is from a plant that is in the same family as the marijuana plant, it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for this feeling.
|A component of the hemp plant||Separate plant in the hemp family that contains CBD and hundreds of other compounds.|
|No or trace amounts of THC||Significant amounts of THC|
|Works receptors in the brain, but not those that induce psychoactive effects (e.g., opioid receptors that help control pain, glycine receptors that impact mood control)||THC binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain to create “high” feeling|
What CBD Oil Can Interact With
CBD oil can interact with medications, including many that are used to treat epilepsy. One of the reasons for this has to do with how your body breaks down (metabolizes) drugs.
Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is an enzyme your body uses to break down some drugs. CBD oil can block CYP450. That means that taking CBD oil with these drugs could make them have a stronger effect than you need or make them not work at all.
Drugs that could potentially interact with CBD include:
- Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
- Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
- Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
- Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
- Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
- Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
- Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
- Migraine medicine like Ergomar (ergotamine)
- Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
- Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis
Always tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, or recreational drugs.
The interactions between these medications and CBD are often mild and you might not have to change your treatment. However, in some cases, you might have to change medications or space out your doses to avoid a reaction. Never change or stop medication without talking to your provider.
What’s a Safe Dosage of CBD Oil?
There are no guidelines for use, nor is there a “correct” dose of CBD oil. That said, the average dose range is from 5 mg to 25 mg.
Available forms include:
- Tinctures (CBD oil mixed with a base oil)
Which you choose largely comes down to your preference and what you hope to get in terms of effects. For example, putting the oil under your tongue can produce effects more quickly than swallowing a capsule that needs to be digested.
Each product works a bit differently, depending on the form, so it’s important to follow the provided directions.
How to Calculate a CBD Dose
Sprays, gummies, and capsules are easy to use because their doses are pre-measured.
Tinctures are a bit more challenging. Most oils come in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles and include a dropper cap to help you measure.
But some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL or more. That means figuring out the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil requires a little math.
To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have about 600 drops in it.
If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg per mL, one drop would have 2.5 mg of CBD in it (1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg).
Safer Buying Practices
Remember that CBD oils are unregulated. There’s no guarantee that a product is what it claims to be on its packaging. You also can’t know for sure that it’s safe and effective.
A 2017 study reported that only 31% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most had less CBD in them than was advertised, and 21% had significant amounts of THC.
If you are interested in buying CBD products, here are a few tips that can help you make the best choice:
- Buy American: Domestically produced CBD oil might be a safer option than those that have been imported.
- Go organic: Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Read the product label: Don’t assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. CBD products can also have preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents in them. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.
Frequently Asked Questions
CBD oil comes in different forms:
- Isolates contain only CBD.
- Broad-spectrum oils have nearly all of the components of the plant (e.g., proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll), but do not have THC. oils have all the compounds including THC (up to 0.3%)
Alternative medicine practitioners believe that the compounds provide more health benefits, but the is a lack of evidence to support these claims.
Not necessarily. While the names are sometimes used interchangeably, hemp oil can also refer to hemp seed oil, which is used for cooking, food production, and skincare products. CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant. It should contain less than 0.3% THC. Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and does not have TCH in it.
It would be hard to overdose on CBD oil. Research has shown that human tolerance for CBD is very high. One study reported the toxic dose would be about 20,000 mg taken at one time.
It depends on where you live, the type of product, how it was sourced, and its intended purpose (medical or recreational). In many states, you must be 18 or 21 to buy CBD oil. Check your state’s laws.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Scheau C, Badarau IA, Mihai LG, et al. Cannabinoids in the pathophysiology of skin inflammation. Molecules. 2020;25(3):652. doi:10.3390/molecules25030652
American Society of Clinical Oncology. Is CBD safe for people With cancer?
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Miller S, Daily L, Leishman E, Bradshaw H, Straiker A. Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol differentially regulate intraocular pressure. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2018;59:5904-5911. doi:10.1167/iovs.18-24838
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By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.
The Potential Side Effects of CBD
Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics.
Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Verywell Mind content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more.
Karen Cilli is a fact-checker for Verywell Mind. She has an extensive background in research, with 33 years of experience as a reference librarian and educator.
Verywell / Alex Dos Diaz
Generally speaking, CBD is considered a safe substance when applied topically or taken orally. There are, however, some potential side effects to keep in mind when using this substance, the majority of which are mild.
Common Side Effects of CBD
The most comment side effects of CBD include drowsiness, gastrointestinal issues, dry mouth, reduced appetite, nausea, and interaction with other medications. Those are outlined in detail below.
Some common side effects when using CBD include drowsiness and sedation. This is also considered a benefit, but Dr. Jas Matharu-Daley, a physician and chief medical officer for a CBD brand, notes that the effects might be too strong if you’re also taking CBD with other sedating medications.
Some people may get diarrhea or liver problems [when using CBD]. This is dependent on the individual and their medical history, so monitoring is important,” says Dr. Matharu-Daley.
Also known as “cotton mouth,” CBD can potentially cause your mouth and eyes to feel very dry. Though this side effect is more likely to occur with THC, it can happen with CBD as well.
Can Interact With Other Medications
CBD might interfere with the other medications you take. Dr. Matharu-Daley says it’s important to talk to your doctor about whether CBD could affect your existing prescriptions.
In some cases, those who ingest CBD supplements might experience nausea, says Dr. Matharu-Daley. This depends on how sensitive the person is to CBD, as well as the amount they ingest.
Because CBD supplements come in so many different forms—such as oils, gummies, tinctures, and vapors—the amount that’s actually absorbed can vary drastically. This, combined with each person, will ultimately affect which (if any) CBD side effects you might experience.
What Is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
CBD—the abbreviation for cannabidiol, a substance that’s generally derived from the hemp plant—has skyrocketed in popularity over the last five years. In fact, according to research, “CBD” as a Google search term remained stable from 2004 to 2014 but has since ballooned by up to 605%.
CBD is one of the many chemical compounds that is found in the cannabis plant—referred to as cannabis sativa. There are two primary parts of the plant that humans use. One is THC, or Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, and the other is CBD. Though they’re from the same plant, THC and CBD are quite different from each other.
“CBD is not an intoxicating substance, whereas THC is a psychoactive that can get you high,” explains Dr. Jas Matharu-Daley, a physician and consultant for a brand that specializes in CBD production.
Are There Any Benefits Associated With Using CBD?
There are several reasons why someone might want to use CBD. The substance can be found in a multitude of products ranging from pain-relieving creams to edible tinctures to skincare. Research is still underway, but over the last few decades scientists have become more aware of how CBD might be beneficial when applied either topically or ingested.
“Since discovering the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body in the 1990s, CBD has been researched more extensively. The ECS is a central regulatory system restoring normal balance and homeostasis in a range of human physiologic systems throughout the body and brain and has cannabinoid receptors and chemicals in its function,” explains Dr. Matharu-Daley.
CBD benefits include the following:
- CBD can have positive impact on the brain. In fact, Dr. Matharu-Daley says that the substance is legally prescribed in a specific medication for certain severe forms of epilepsy in children.
- It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which is why you often see CBD in topical products such as oils, creams, and lotions.
- Some research points to CBD’s ability to relieve stress and anxiety.
- It has been used as a nausea treatment in some countries.
- CBD may potentially reduce pain symptoms.
- It has antioxidant properties, which means it can help fight off free radical damages that leads to premature aging.
- Regarding skincare, CBD may help reduce excessive oil production in those with very oily skin types.
Ultimately, the primary reasons why people use CBD is because it tends to have calming, relaxing, pain-reducing effects. It has been used to alleviate joint pain and nerve pain, reduce anxiety and stress, treat insomnia, improve migraines, and address nausea.
CBD Is Still an Unregulated Substance
It’s important to point out that CBD is not regulated by the FDA and therefore dosages might not be accurate. It’s also difficult to know what an appropriate dose is the first time you try a new product.
“If the CBD is from a reputable source and one that has been inspected by a third-party independent lab, the content of CBD is more reliable,” notes Dr. Matharu-Daley. “The CBD should be organically grown, free of pesticides and heavy metals, and not sourced in food which can affect absorption. Generally, CBD is safe and side effects are few at low doses.”
A Word From Verywell
CBD is technically an unregulated substance in the United States and therefore it ought to be used with caution. This is especially important for those taking additional medications and/or those with ongoing medical issues. That said, preliminary research on CBD and its benefits are promising in relation to helping with mild to moderate health concerns and it is generally considered a safe substance. Health professionals do not consider CBD a cure-all for serious medical issues, including cancer.
As with any sort of supplement, we recommend speaking to your medical doctor about whether using CBD makes sense for you. Your doctor can also recommend certain products that align with your needs and help ensure you get the correct dosage.
Are There Side Effects to CBD Oils, Pills, or Gummies?
The increasing prevalence of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products has necessitated the spread of information regarding its properties and — most importantly — whether it can be harmful. If you are brand new to the industry and looking to try something new, you are probably wondering: are there side effects to CBD oils, pills, or gummies? Thankfully, CBD is considered to have a very high safety profile, but like any substance with the ability to change brain chemistry, its use can result in potential side effects.
CBD is one of hundreds of compounds that are found in the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids. These specialized molecules are designed to interact with specific internal receptors that are found throughout our brain and body. These cannabinoid receptors can influence many different processes regarding the modulation of other body systems, which is why people are affected when they consume cannabinoid compounds.
The Most common side effects of cbd
Those who are just learning about CBD may not realize that it does not have the ability to make you intoxicated. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the only compound in cannabis that is capable of doing that. This is why hemp is ideal for extracting CBD oil, because it contains only trace amounts of THC, so users will not experience inebriation after its consumption.
However, several clinical trials have shown that patients who were treated with high doses of CBD (In some cases, over 1,300mg in a single day) had reported symptoms that ranged from mild to moderately severe, although nothing significantly life threatening. Research has so far indicated that the most common side effects of CBD can include things like queasiness, anxiety, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, trouble with balance, dry mouth, and fluctuations in appetite or weight.
Nausea or vomiting
One reported side effect of CBD use is nausea, or vomiting. This can result from taking too high of a dose, which can be a different amount for each person as it is based on their individual biochemistry. For some new users, they may have trouble digesting the oil, which could potentially lead to an upset stomach.
When first trying out a CBD product, it is best to begin with the smallest dose possible, and work your way up. It is also important to note that when taking a tincture, it is necessary to hold the oil underneath your tongue for at least 1-2 minutes, or until the oil has been completely absorbed by the sublingual gland. In this way, the compounds are able to bypass the digestive system and go directly into the bloodstream.
Although many studies are currently underway to determine whether CBD helps with anxiety, some patients have indicated that it actually triggered rather than relieved their anxiety. This could be due to an overly high dose, although the quality of the CBD oil can have a huge effect as well. It may also correspond to the causes of individual stress or anxiety, whether they are due to external factors regarding lifestyle or internal body mechanisms that involve brain chemistry.
There has been a lot of research compiled regarding the use of CBD as a sleep aid, which makes sense as some users have reported excessive fatigue and tiredness associated with larger doses.
A small percentage of users experienced gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea after consuming CBD. This may also be due in part to the carrier oil that is used as a preservative in CBD products. Different types of carriers can include olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or propylene glycol, and some people might be sensitive to a particular type.
Although there have been a few instances of dizziness associated with CBD use, this may also be an effect of gastrointestinal issues due to sensitivity of other ingredients. This is why it is very important to research all of the ingredients for a particular product, in case of allergies or other components that may cause a reaction.
Because CBD oil can be absorbed through the sublingual gland, cannabinoids have the potential to influence saliva production. However, if a CBD product causes excessive dry mouth, it may also be an indication of higher amounts of THC, which is primarily associated with this kind of symptom.
Always check the batch lab reports of a particular product to ensure that it does not have more than 0.3% THC. Some states have allowed for medical use of CBD products that contain more than the federal maximum amount of THC, so that is definitely something to consider and be aware of.
Changes in Appetite or Weight
Some consumers say they have experienced changes in their appetite or weight after using a CBD product. Cannabis products are often used in palliative care for terminal patients as a way to stimulate appetite, and this is considered one of the most common side effects of cannabinoids.
When cbd side effects may occur
It has become so popular in part because of its high safety profile, but when CBD side effects may occur can depend on the quality of the CBD product being consumed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of disreputable companies out there who are looking to make a quick buck in such a fast growing industry. This means they possibly use inferior processes for extracting the oil — some techniques involve the use of harsh chemicals which strip the plant of its natural components, and these processes could potentially leave behind trace amounts of toxic compounds. Currently, CO2 extraction is considered one of the cleanest and most efficient methods for extracting CBD oil.
It is important when choosing a CBD product to ensure that the company provides independent lab tests to confirm the purity of the oil, and to make sure that it does not contain higher amounts of THC, which is federally illegal. Many companies may not want to pay for this, which can be a disadvantage because not all batches of oil will come out with the same concentrations of cannabinoids, and it is important to follow these guidelines in order to ensure that only minimal amounts of THC are in the product.
Is CBD fda approved?
So, is CBD FDA approved? Currently, the Federal Drug Administration is still weighing in on CBD, and has not yet approved its medical use. Part of the issue is the expensive involved with clinical trials, which can cost millions of dollars.
There has been significant confusion within the industry because while hemp products and CBD are federally legal through the 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA has yet to approve their inclusion as an ingestible health supplement. However, FDA officials are aware of the high demand and pervasive use of CBD products, which has prompted them to request users, health practitioners, and industry experts to give their own experiences and comments regarding this issue. They held the first in a series of hearings in the summer of 2019, where people were invited to share their views, and they had also maintained a public comment forum on the FDA website where people were encouraged to give their thoughts on the matter.
It is believed that it will only be a matter of time before the FDA officially approves CBD, but many feel the process is taking too long. The fact that there are no established guidelines means that less scrupulous companies are able to operate with minimal oversight, which ultimately puts consumers at risk.
It is important to continue pressuring the FDA to make significant progress with regard to this decision, and hemp advocates continue to pursue legal avenues that would force them to speed up the process. Until then, both companies and customers will be at risk from the unstable regulatory landscape.